What's At Stake?
The Bush administration has done it again -- negotiated another unfair trade agreement that would have damaging consequences here at home as well as abroad. On April 7, 2008, President Bush transmitted the Colombia "free" trade agreement (FTA) to Congress, and under fast track rules, this means that it must be voted on before the August Congressional recess. Congress can only vote a straight YES or NO and cannot make any amendments to the agreement.
What is even more alarming is that Colombia remains the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade union activist. Since 1991, the National Labor School reports that 2,238 trade unionists were assassinated in Colombia, more than any other country in the world. Already this year 11 trade unionists have been killed. The Colombian government has done very little to bring justice to these senseless killings. All but a handful of the perpetrators of these crimes are still at large and face no charges. Trade unionists and their families in Colombia live in a climate of fear that makes it impossible for them to fully and confidently exercise their rights to organize, bargain collectively, go on strike, or criticize their government.
America's workers want fair trade policies, not more of the same job-killing trade agreements that the Bush administration continues to push through. While the labor chapter of the Colombia FTA is an improvement, it is insufficient, and the rest of the agreement is modeled off of the same flawed language found in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). NAFTA and CAFTA resulted in major job losses here at home, environmental degradation and the decimation of family farmers in other countries. We can only expect the results of the Colombia FTA to be the same.
This trade agreement is not "free." It comes at a huge cost for Americans and Colombians alike. For Americans, it means more losses in jobs and exports, decreased living standards for middle-class families, and a weaker domestic manufacturing base. For Colombians, it means more substandard wages, the destruction of their country's biodiversity, ruined livelihoods for family farmers, an increased pressure to emigrate, and no justice for the thousands of trade unionists already assassinated and those who continue to live in fear.
We need your help! Please take a moment to send an e-mail to your members of Congress and let them know that if the Bush Administration forces a vote on the Colombia FTA, they must oppose it and ensure that it is defeated. U.S. workers do not want the Colombia FTA, and it is outrageous for anyone to even consider an FTA with the Colombian government in light of their impunity with regard to trade union assassinations in their country. Such impunity should not be rewarded with more access to the American market.
Visit the Change to Win site to send a message to your congressman.